Ship Review: Norwegian Cruise Line was highly recommended to us as one of the leading companies in offering great cruise experiences and in providing high quality service.
However, after participating in the recent cruise Barcelona-Venice in October 2016, we encountered a certain number of negative issues on board, which in our view, are important to raise to the attention of the company.
1. The first and one of the most important issues is the new regulation about the drinking water, which is not allowed to be taken on board.
On the embarkation day we bought a lot of drinking water to take on board, as we did on the last cruise. Our group consisted of three adults and three children; and their mother was recently ill so in order to maintain a good health condition, her doctor highly recommended to drink at least two litres of water a day.
So we bought 5-7 gallons of water and arrived happily at the port.
The porters who helped with the baggage, were almost ready to take the drinking water with the rest of the baggage, but because the bag with the water was half open they were afraid that some water bottles might fall out. That was the only reason not to hand in the water, and they kindly suggested to take the drinking water with our hand baggage.
In order to reduce the weight of the overall water, we put some water bottles in the suitcases in front of porters and security. No one said to us anything about the new regulation that the drinking water is not allowed to be taken on board.
To our great astonishment, after handing in the baggage and passing all security checks, right at the main entrance at the deck 7 - we were informed in a quite rude manner of speech, that no one is allowed to take in drinking water on board as according to new regulations. The water can be purchased on board. Ultimately, our water was confiscated.
We have not seen any notice in the tickets about new rules and regulations regarding water.
We were told that the reason for not allowing to take drinking water on board is the prevention of possible terrorism. This is reasonable, yet, why then no one took out water bottles from the handed in baggage? In addition, when we were passing the security check with our hand baggage with water bottles - they did not say a word about new regulation. We can not find any explanation to that case, and consequently another important question arises, namely the security issue.
Does it mean that the handed in baggage is just loaded on the ship without any examination or security check up, so that theoretically everyone can take on board anything dangerous?
This does not make any sense, that just in front of the entrance of the ship our water was confiscated, whereas one can take the same water or anything else on board in the handed in baggage.
All in all, during the whole cruise we had to buy water on board which resulted in huge unexpected expenses. Our group of six people, consisting of three children and three adults , who are used to a normal daily water intake (at least 1.5 litters per day) - was exposed to no other choice than to spend daily almost $70 for water, considering that the price for one litre of water is $7.
We could not allow to spend so much money on a daily basis and we were told as an alternative, that the tab water is suitable for drinking on board. We tried to drink tab water from time to time, which frankly speaking is stinky, and children were reluctant to drink it a lot.
The worst part of it, was that after drinking the tab water, most of our group members got sick with infectious disease.
As a result, the youngest daughter of the family was taken by the emergency to the hospital in Venice and parents spent with her the whole night in emergency. Due to the sickness, she had all dehydration symptoms, and the doctor on board refused to install drop counter on the ship, so she had to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully, the last night of the cruise the ship was at port, but what if that had happened during the time at sea?
As a result of this regulation - we were not able to get the normal amount of water that we are used to, we had experienced dehydration symptoms, and the overall cruise experience became really negative.
2. The service charges on board.
Firstly, unfounded high charges for drinking water.
Secondly, we still do not understand why the charges on board of the European - Mediterranean cruise are made in dollars. Moreover, if one uses credit card on board additional 3% are charged, as well as the conversion rates are taken at not the best rates.
Thirdly, to do laundry - we have calculated, that if doing two laundries for cleaning one pair of jeans - the charge would be equal to the price of a new pair of jeans. Just for a comparison: we have been to another cruise operated by other company, and they had washing machines for public services with coins.
Another example is with complimentary restaurants. Once we went to the Japanese complimentary restaurant, however, only small part of the menu was free of charge. We had to pay for the main courses, as the meals offered in a free of charge section were not enough to have a normal dinner.
Besides, the prices of the excursions, to our minds, are unreasonably high. For instance, the price for the excursion to the Rome and Vatican was $400 per person, that was offered on cruise. We decided to go on our own and hired a taxi with a private guide. He took us to the main sightseeings in Rome, made any stops as requested, and then back. We paid for that private tour $250-300 for several people.
We have such an impression, that as soon as one gets on board - one is expected to pay for almost everything, despite the purchased itinerary.
For example, even to play a billiard with children - one has to pay for it.
It also important to mention, the daily charges per person and daily included gratuities.
3. Competence of the personnel at the front desk
One more unpleasant experience we had was with the work of the personnel at the main reception desk (guest service). Generally the personnel was polite, listened to all enquiries and was willing to help.
However, to our surprise they frequently forgot simple requests, such as not to call to the cabin, as kids might be sleeping and to leave instead a note or a letter.
Moreover, we made an enquiry in advance that was very important to us for our further plans on the day of disembarkation. Since the person at the desk could not give us a straight reply, he promised to get back to us as soon as possible. We had waited for 2 days! As it turned out, he simply forgot his promise. And similar cases repeated during the cruise.
Besides, a couple of times we kindly asked to bring to our room water bottles as soon as possible, as children were thirsty, but after a long wait, no one came.
Similarly, a mini bar with water bottles was closed in one of our cabins. We asked to open it, but we had to wait for almost a day for that. On the next day, it was closed again.
Consequently, we personally went to discuss those issues at the front desk at the guest service reception.
We spent a plenty of time to explain the situation, the personnel politely listened to our query, then asked for a supervisor, and we had to spend another 20-30 talking about the same issue. As a result, the supervisor provided us with the phone number of one of the offices in Miami, stating, that if we wanted to find out the reason about ignorance and such delays in service we had to approach the manager in Miami office. Would it count as a competent dealing with clients matter? Just to add, that that type of call would incur again high roaming charges, but would not make a change to the simple request - to deliver water faster, so that children do not have to wait for hours for that simple request.
Another example of inaccurate processing of information and documentation we experienced when visiting a doctor. Having visited doctor for a couple of times, we also had to wait and had to remind personally to send to us doctors documents regarding the visit, as otherwise, the responsible person simply forgot to do that. After the last visit to the doctor, we have not received the documents yet.
The last disappointing issue with the responses from the personnel, but not the least, was the response to our query for assistance on the last morning of the cruise. I have already mentioned above, that the youngest daughter was taken to the hospital in Venice and stayed there with her parents overnight. Before the disembarkation, we called at the reception to ask for assistance with the hand luggage, as well as to receive any kind of assistance in case we have to wait in a long line, as we wanted to get off the ship as soon as possible in order to reach the hospital.
Having explained our special situation, we were allowed to use the room for additional 40 minutes (thank you), but at the same time we have received a very cold denial for the assistance with the luggage as well as any kind of help in a faster disembarkation.
This is not good at all.
We live in such a technically advanced age. We understand, that the Internet on the ship must be more expensive as that on land. Yet, to pay $1 per minute!? In addition, the overall condition of the internet connection is far from good and the Internet was not available on the last evening and on the last morning of the cruise, even for the pay.
Bearing all that in mind, we understand that there are certain regulations in the cruise company, that can not be changed. However, we believe that certain steps will be undertaken by the company to improve the service. We have to say that we are really disappointed with the level of service on board.
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